This reporter is garnered with mixed emotions as one of the largest tech companies in the world, Apple Inc, steps up to “borrow” on the reputation of his alma mater, one of America’s most prestigious high schools with over a century of success in higher education: Lane Tech of Chicago.
Respectfully taking advantage of spring break so as not to disturb the student body, Apple made use of Lane Tech as the backdrop of their most recent product announcements giving a tip-of-the-hat to a renewed commitment to assist in the path to higher education beginning at the elementary and secondary levels (and of course the associated gold-mine of profits waiting therein).
Apple CEO Tim Cook was quoted saying, “Thanks to the students and faculty of Lane Tech for being our gracious hosts. Rich with history and forward-thinking — we couldn’t ask for a better place to talk about the future of education.”
Even former US Vice President and Academy Award winning documentary producer Al Gore was present to lend his support.
To date, Lane Tech remains as the one American High School with more PhDs and more graduates in Symphony Orchestras, not to mention Master Machinists, around the world than any other – Lane Tech is the original “School of Champions”!
Enough is being published about the Apple product announcement so as not to necessitate its redundancy here.
The Lane Tech back story – from this reporter’s perspective…
As some do not realize, the current Albert G Lane Technical High School building at Addison and Western in Chicago was the second home of Lane Tech and built from the ground up with 2 things in mind – college preparation and trade education. The entire first floor was filled with giant shop classes as well as giant science labs. 4th floor has giant music rehearsal spaces and biology labs. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra even set up an apprentice program to fill vacant seats during the several World Wars. It had an original estimated capacity of 10,000 students, a number which of course has been pared down due to maximum classroom size rules. For example, this reporter had a freshman class of 2,500 and a senior graduating class of 1,250 in 1976. All tolled – about 7,500 students. Since then, the Chicago Public School System (CPS) has removed and destroyed most of the shop class spaces and re-purposed them for administrative use under the mindset that students don’t need to know how to make or fix things anymore (since we’ve exported those jobs overseas).
Back then, there were only 2 magnet schools for high performers in Chicago, Lane Tech on the north-side and Chicago Vocational School (CVS) on the south-side. Getting in to either school required having a high grade school GPA and passing a rigorous entrance exam in 8th grade with a recommendation from your principal. Once in, you had to hang-on-to-your-hat and really perform (only about 10 of my 90 elementary school classmates made the cut).
Lane had a policy that if a student could not retain a GPA of “C” or better at the end of their sophomore year, they were sent back to their neighborhood high school. (A certain Illinois Governor now in prison was amongst those who had to go.) This made room for others applying from the neighborhood schools as sophomores who, with a recommendation from their principal, demonstrated high performance skills and abilities to gain late acceptance.
Today, the city of Chicago has dozens of new magnet schools for high performers, each claiming their own honors. However, because they are all designed to hold a much smaller capacity, they can pick and choose high performers, which gives the illusion that they outperform Lane students. In fact, if one takes the total population of any of those new smaller magnet schools, and then lops off the top performers at Lane to account for a similar number, the top performers at Lane still stand shoulder-to-shoulder and in many cases outpace the full population at these new magnet schools. Since Lane takes in a broader range of high performers, the performance levels get skewed lower as a function of the overall student body. In other words, Lane takes in the full range of the “bell curve” of bright minds while these new smaller magnet schools with lower populations only take the top edge. Unfair comparisons at best. In addition, the century’s old culture of excellence and pride provides the “invisible ingredient” for Lane students to thrive in the most competitive situations.
Having been fortunate to have had two schoolteachers as parents, one elementary and one at DeVry University, right behind Lane Tech in the former Riverview amusement park property, this reporter can recall a famous quote from his father, “the A students become the doctors and lawyers, the B students end up working for the C students who learned all the same things, but had the common sense to split their efforts between academia and understanding life and business.”
To Wit: Might we recall famous college flopouts with a “C” average like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (Apple)?
So while we celebrate this day’s acknowledgment by Apple of the “Honor of Lane” – let us not forget which is the chicken and which is the egg.
Too bad Apple didn’t also announce that 1% of all profits from the new product will go to Lane Tech to preserve and enhance its rank as the one of the top High Schools in America.
By the way, who was the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) “genius” that allowed Apple to “borrow” our thunder for free? Let me thank them privately by showing them how to smelt aluminum in a blast furnace and mold a figure of the Lane Tech Mascot – our beloved American Native Chief! LOL
GO LANE GO!
P.S. “An Apple can rot – the honor of Lane cannot!” (c) www.gallantgoose.com
greg ‘da goose groeper
Lane Tech Class of 1976
Cornell College Class of 1981
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